Stereotypes. Schools are full of them. The nerdy kid, the sporty kid, the drama kid, the teachers pet.
And then there’s the mums. I’m sure you have seen the blog posts and the tongue-in-cheek quizzes. The ones that ask ‘which school gate mum are you?’. I look around for the ‘sleep-deprived, not sure what she’s doing, loves her kids more than anything, is just trying to do her best’ option but it doesn’t exist. It’s the Lorna Jane gym mum, the immaculate yummy mummy, the overly involved P&C mum, the stressed working mum and the slummy mummy with a two year old on her hip wearing stained yoga pants (with no intention of going to yoga).
Truth is I could be any one of those mums depending on the day. Truth is I have never met a single person at the school gate that fits into one of those boxes. And by person I mean the mums, the dads, the aunts, the uncles, the baby-sitters, the nannies, the older siblings, the friends and the grandparents that are at the school gate every morning and afternoon. The people that are just doing their best to be there by 3pm, ready to be loaded down with school bags, notes and if they are lucky a big hug or a mumbled ‘Hello’.
I admit it. I have laughed at stereotypes I see in other people and don’t recognise in myself. I reckon the people I have stereotyped have done the same thing. Because, let’s be honest, the only truth we know is our own. We have no idea what’s going on in other people’s lives. In my experience we glide like swans above the water. But in reality, under the surface, there are quite a few days we are frantically just trying to stay afloat.
What I see at my school gate is a bunch of people who love their own kids dearly, who genuinely care for the other kids at school and who are happy to support the school in ways that make sense for them and their family. I see people that are nailing the parenting gig some days and who need some help other days. I generally just see parents trying to do their best. And a community willing to help them out.
If I need to work beyond pick up time, there are plenty of parents who could pick my son up for me. I do the same for them. If someone’s running late, a host of people look out for their kid. The late mum arrives breathless and embarrassed, announcing themselves the worst mother ever. Then everyone laughs and challenges the title. We send each other texts and emails when events are coming up to make sure no-one forgets. Hats are loaned in the car park when it’s discovered someone has lost theirs or left it at home. We talk about the latest challenges at home and feel less alone when we learn everyone else’s kid is doing a similar thing. When things go wrong, people rally around and offer support. When things go right, everyone celebrates. There is community and camaraderie – rather than cliques and stereotypes.
But what if none of us had looked past the stereotypes – would we have gotten to this point? If we had judged each other at the school gate as brand new Prep parents – would we have the support network we do? Kids don’t look at other kids and think ‘Oh she looks nice but so pulled together and perfect. I doubt she’d want to be friends with me.’ Or ‘Hmmm, that kid’s sneakers indicate he’s quite into sport and I’m not quite into sport so he wouldn’t want to talk to me.’ Or ‘That boy is eating homemade bliss balls and I am eating a packet of Twisties – if I try to be his friend he’s just going to judge me.’ Nope, kids size each other for a second and are mates within minutes. They don’t over-think it. Maybe us mums shouldn’t either. After all, we really are all in the same boat. No matter what we happen to be wearing.
Do you find the school gate judgy or friendly?
More help for breezing through school life:
- 5 Freezable Lunch Box Recipes
- Printable Back To School To Do List
- From Dinner to Lunch Box Ideas and Recipes